Formatting the hard drive and installing Windows is easy. What's hard is setting up all the individual programs, with their full settings, which can take days. Now, the freeware CloneApp can backup program settings, and restore them after reinstalling the OS, or transfer them to a new version of Windows.
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CloneApp was created by the small software developer Mirinsoft, and we can find the latest version on their website.
We can download it from Mirinsoft.com, or from one of the two mirrors.
After we download the compressed .zip file, we open it and extract the CloneApp folder from within. Since it is a portable application, that doesn't need installation, we can extract the folder directly to a USB thumb drive or external hard drive.
Backup program settings with CloneApp
CloneApp won't backup program settings from every application that was ever made, but it does currently support about 170 of the most popular Windows applications - check out the full list here.
We must always open the CloneApp application with Administrative rights, using right-click -> Run as administrator. Otherwise, it won't have the necessary rights to backup program settings from within the system folders.
The program interface is heavily influenced by Ccleaner, even though the two programs have nothing else in common.
First, we click on the "Select Installed", so the app will scan which of the supported programs are installed on our system, and check them for us. In the example, it detected 36 applications.
Then, we make sure that no other programs are running, and click on "Start CloneApp".
Some apps will take longer to copy than others, like Chrome, with a large number of cached files.
If we forget any apps running, we might get a File In Use error. We just close the app, and select "Try Again".
Also, the program had trouble with some of the integrated theme files, which we skipped. It's best not to check "Do this for all current items", so we know which files we skipped for the backup.
All the program settings are backed up inside the CloneApp folder.
If we took the backup on a removable drive, it's best to remove it safely.
Restore program settings on a new installation
So, after we backup program settings, we proceed with formatting the hard drive and either reinstalling our current Windows version, or upgrading to a later version.
When we connect the USB Thumb drive or the external HDD, we need to check if the drive letter is the same. In the example it has changed, on the old system it was E:\CloneApp, but now it is F:\CloneApp.
Since the path has changed, we must navigate to CloneApp -> Data. There we edit the cloneapp.ini file.
We just have to change the "ClonePath" and "LogPath" entries to show the current directory path.
We do the same for the cloneapp2.ini file
Finally, we run CloneApp and click on Restore.
And that's it. We have now restored the settings for multiple Windows apps.
Why use CloneApp instead of an image backup solution?
If we want to backup program settings, a full image backup app, such as AOMEI Backupper or EaseUS Todo Backup seems a better solution, because it will back up everything, Windows, programs, and their settings.
CloneApp, however, is a better choice if our Windows installation is damaged, and we want to do a clean install, but also keep the program settings.
Also, we can't use an image backup to upgrade to the latest version of Windows. CloneApp works great to transfer the program settings from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.
Did CloneApp work well for you?
If you used CloneApp to backup program settings, whether it worked well or not, leave us a comment.
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